Just thought I’d start blogging again with a small update on what I’m currently reading and what I have been reading. It’s been a bit of a rough week for me with my dog (and friend’s) terminal health issues and to be honest I haven’t been reading a whole lot lately, mostly because I like going outside and looking out at oceans, with beautiful people on them, and when I am indoors, writing on television has just become so much better with so many more outlets, I haven’t felt the need to find other things to do. I also haven’t been seeing much that had the look of a must read in the midst of a bunch of that could be cools.
Another factor is that since I workout daily and consume things like podcasts (I’m afraid audio books are not really my thing unless they are nonfiction, which tend to sound a lot like podcasts I do listen to – usually sports, science, or hobby related) when I do I just have not wanted to invest on a lot of reading lately, barring new Steven Erikson dropping, because I need my Malazan fixes asap. I not too long ago caught up on Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards but after loving the debut and even more the sequel, I was admittedly left pretty bewildered by The Thorn of Emberlain. My favorites of last year were Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky and Inio Asano’s manga Girl on the Shore. In fact, I’ve been getting my epic fix from comics via One Piece, the long running and probably most popular comic in the world by Oda-san. I’ve been shifting a lot to manga lately actually because while I can appreciate and am very aware of a reawakening of indie comics in the U.S., they just feel so measured, hipster, and half-cooked, where I’m looking for kinetic, fun, and half-baked. I have been getting more excitement out of a manga about COOKING than I do whatever the next neo noir, gray, damaged protagonist, that can only end via some time or reality shift, within someone’s mind, or sometimes not at all. The best current deal in speculative fiction is almost without question Netflix or HBO when Game of Thrones is airing, but close to them is probably Weekly Shonen Jump. Even when it comes to keeping it real I can stream Terrace House, perhaps the first actually good reality TV show.
Jeff VanderMeer is an author I’ve always enjoyed. Secret Life remains one of my favorite collections and is on any sneaky quality best of list, and I’ve always enjoyed that while he was definitely doing his own thing back in the day with his Fungi-laden Ambergris, he was also a guy that was a bit different than a lot of this crop of authors who were coming up around the same time we as a site were, where he actually didn’t mind saying something that was more mainstream at the time wasn’t garbage. He had great recommendation lists that definitely opened my eyes to great writers both new and forgotten (from Edward Carey to Edward Whittemore) and at least at the beginning he was an author who always had an opinion and would share it if you asked him. While it’s alluring to attach a movement to him, movements were big things at the time, I felt like even though his name could be found editing anthologies of many of them, he remained one step ahead of them, while still having the admiration of those he kept closely behind. Everytime you figured him, he’s drop a Finch or write a Predator novel. I’ve also always genuinely liked Jeff, though I sensed a breach occur that to my knowledge had nothing to do with me. As a site we were a part of a new wave of science fiction and fantasy book bloggers that seemed to hit around the same time, and with it came competition and gossip that frankly I was always pretty much aloof about it simply because while some people wanted to cry, bitch, and whine about books, book reviews, book contests, publicists etc, frankly, to pull the curtains back, I was single living 30 yards from the beach on an island in the Mediterranean in a 4-story house when we started the site, life was (and remains) good, and I didn’t give a shit about what most people were posturing about and the little things that flare up daily when running a website.
I had zero interest in manufactured drama in the nerd blogging world when my life in the real world was so good and it constantly felt like people wanting to be involved in a competition or altercation that I felt like I already won, waking up and drinking great coffee on the emerald waters – Costa Smeralda – every morning. At times you work with people who aren’t as fortunate and depending on their character they can tend to incite said drama as a matter of course to have something to talk about in their own life. I felt powers trying to pull me in to such things almost constantly but I truly had and have the freedom to not give a damn, so I don’t and didn’t, and I think some relationships suffered or merely didn’t happen because I was a happy person who had little time for dumb problems that people can work out in their own homes. Some were good, because I’ve been told a lot of things by authors and publicists because of those very same traits, and have never revealed anything said in confidence to me, and as anyone who deals in this game knows, authors LOVE to talk. Especially about each other. ESPECIALLY after a convention. I feel somewhat vindicated over the years in my choice to be a non-participant as the coming of social media has shown the true colors of most corners of fandom in real time and it’s pretty ugly. I never felt like we were competing with anyone, mostly because I knew how well we were doing and we were only looking up at two sites, both of whom were backed heavily by larger properties or corporations, not just 3 idiots and a gang doing shit on their spare time. I guess that says a lot, because while I’m proud of my reviews, interviews, and think pieces, I’m not a writer, nor am I an artist of any kind – you can tell the difference when reading the wonderful pieces we have by actual writers here by the likes of Hal Duncan, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Ben Thompson, Matthew Cheney, or Guy Gavriel Kay, among many others. I come from an economics/trade background and spent most of my life traveling and beaching, which made for many opportunities to read my favorite books.
That was a bit of a tangent, but my point is that I’ve always liked Jeff so I’ve been super excited that he got his Southern Reach series not only optioned, but landed a dope af exciting young director who NAILED his last project. I loved reading about him getting a nice sum for Borne too because I like seeing people come up and doing well. I like seeing people on the beach with me, especially those that can point me to a good book. Some new Leena Krohn or Peter Raftos project or the like. If you were around at the time and just saw all the different projects he spearheaded or was attached too, including being that aforementioned endless conduit to new talent or old greats we had forgotten, VanderMeer was on that grind. Because me and my partner were webmasters in-learning I often even did small things audit author sites, and even then I vividly remember having a conversation with my partner about how clean the site came up – for a non-bestseller type to have a PR6 site nearly 10 years ago was pretty astounding, and I think it spoke to a varied but still focused corner Jeff was hitting that linked back to him, labeling him as a trusted authority in his field, and I don’t think it would be a mistake to call him one of the principal voices and figures of what was coming in speculative fiction. Not as buzzy or quotable as Mieville early on, but way more constant. Again, I’m not an artist, I’m more analyst.
So here I am again about to start Borne, a new VanderMeer joint, much in the way where books like Perdido Street Station or City of Saints and Madmen once helped expand the limits of my own bookshelf years ago around the time this sit was started, I’m dipping back in again, though I don’t think I’m going completely in the dark. I’m a head, so I have this:
A bit of pre-Borne Borne in the pages of Black Clock.
More coming soon.